Schools React To First Locally-Acquired Cases Of The Zika Virus In South Florida

Aug 1, 2016

Schools and school districts are among those reacting to news of 14  locally-acquired cases of the Zika virus confirmed in South Florida.

With the first day of school still weeks away, Miami-Dade County Public Schools sent out an automated voicemail to parents last week reinforcing basic anti-mosquito measures.

The recording advised parents to wear "long-sleeved shirts and long pants," to "apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing  and use mosquito netting with children younger than two months." 

There are six public schools in the Wynwood neighborhood where the Florida Department of Health has identified 12 cases of the Zika virus believed to have been transmitted by local mosquitoes.

In Broward County, Superintendent Robert Runcie said the school district did not take any new measures in response to news of locally-acquired Zika cases, but emphasized ongoing efforts at prevention and prevention. 

"There's a balance between awareness and hysteria," Runcie said. The school district has already trained all school nurses in diagnosing the Zika virus and rehearsed protocols for collaboration with the county health department, he added, saying that school facility managers were being "especially" diligent in efforts to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

Public health experts have been expecting the arrival of the Zika virus in South Florida for months, since its weather makes it a perfect ground for mosquito reproduction. 

Zika's most severe impacts are microcephaly and other birth defects  that have been linked to contracting the virus during pregnancy, and the CDC has advised adults in childbearing years to take special precautions. In healthy children and other adults, the Zika virus is usually a minor illness that causes a fever and aches lasting only a few days.